Is Podcasting dead?
Some people would argue it is with the ever-growing video landscape. However, there are still thousands of people Podcasting, and quite a few notable folk who use it as part of their author marketing. In fact, some people can attribute Podcasts to the success of their author platform; so surly the thought of such a platform dying is crazy.
My guest today is certainly one to argue for it, and I’m excited to hear his thoughts on a subject he knows a great deal about.
Welcome back to the How To Build An Author House Series. I’ve had a few weeks off from this series to get 2012 SXSW out of the way, but I’m back and raring to go.
Today I’m delighted to welcome Jim Hopkinson, the notable Podcaster who I’ve been following for a few months. Jim, like me, is going through some transitions at the moment, and his future is looking very bright indeed. We hoped to sit down in Austin last week, but time got the better of us both.
I did manage to have a quick chat though, so let me introduce Jim and get the questions under way:
What are the core benefits of Podcasting?
The main benefit is you can target a niche and get your message out to them. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, male or female, or live in New York City or New Delhi, anyone can start a podcast for free and be up and running in a few hours.
It’s also beneficial for people that prefer to speak vs writing because it can convey a different type of energy, without the added work of doing video.
What set up does a Podcast Newbie need, and what kind of investment is needed?
One of the greatest things about the state of new media is just about everything to get started is free or very low cost. Starting a podcast is easy. Maintaining a podcast is hard.
So I recommend starting with a small investment: Garageband is free on every Mac. You can get a microphone for under $20. Setting up a WordPress Blog is free, as is marketing and promoting yourself via social media.
Once you start to get a following or have a few months under your belt, then you can look to upgrade things. I did 175 episodes over 3 1/2 years — including 60+ interviews — with a simple Snowball Microphone (about $70).
I only recently made the jump to purchase a second one to have dual audio tracks. One thing I do recommend investing in is design though. From your website to your podcast icon, having a polished, consistent look and feel to your brand will help you get taken seriously and noticed.
What are some tips you would offer to someone venturing into Podcasting?
Two tips: The first is to pick a topic that you are passionate about. It sounds cliché, but like I said previously, it’s all exciting in the beginning. But what’s going to happen when you are 20, 30, 100 episodes down the road?
Picking a topic you “can’t not talk about” will give you fuel for ideas for those times you’ve had a crazy week, are completely exhausted, but have a show that needs to be posted the next day.
The second tip is once you have your topic, get started immediately. When I began, I spent about 2-3 months designing my website, deciding on icons and colour schemes, trying to set up the perfect template with intros and background music, and trying to plot out topics for several weeks of shows. The bottom line is, your first few shows are going to suck anyway.
It might takes months for you to really find your rhythm and settle into a format, so the sooner you start, the better.
With the advances of online video, do you still see Podcasting having a future?
It’s true that the online video space continues to explode, and everything keeps getting easier. Every mobile device now has a high-end camera and video ability, and an entire generation is now comfortable with iMovie + YouTube.
But video is still hard. Sure, you can hold up a $100 Flip-style camera and quickly upload HD-quality video to the web, but few people want to watch more than 30 seconds of someone ranting at the camera. Getting things right – like good lighting, quality sound, b-roll, graphics, and editing, etc – is still a challenge for most people.
Meanwhile, there are still millions of people that want to consume content while driving in their car, walking around the city, or going for a run. In those cases, an audio podcast trumps video.
TV certainly reduced the popularity of radio, but it didn’t eliminate it. Same thing here.
What has Podcasting done for your own career?
My favourite result of podcasting has been meeting unbelievably cool people. From true celebrities like Adam Carolla (a leading podcaster in his own right), to Internet celebrities like Julia Allison, to dozens of ambitious entrepreneurs; every person I meet brings something to the table.
The other thing it has done is elevate my personal brand. I firmly believe that it was my podcast, associated Blog, and social media connections that led to me landing a publishing deal for my book Salary Tutor in 2010.
*TM* A great example of podcasting help to build an author platform
Do you feel Podcasting can help an aspiring author, and if so, what kind of topics do you suggest they cover?
I definitely feel podcasting can help authors. Take a look at a fairly well known writer such as Bill Simmons of ESPN. He started out as a sports Blogger, worked his way to become a popular writer for ESPN.com, and now has written several books, produced television shows, worked for Jimmy Kimmel, and appeared on air.
But through it all, he has maintained his weekly podcast ‘The BS Report’.
A lesser known author might be someone like Joanna Penn. Her blog “The Creative Penn” focuses on independent authors and how they can self-publish their work, and she eventually started a podcast of the same name.
When it came time for the launch of her first major e-book for the Amazon Kindle, she had a built in audience and was able to sell thousands of copies and landed near the top of the charts.
Anything else to note?
Yup. I’d say the parting message — and one that I heard a few times at SXSW — is there’s never been a better time to start your own business. In 2012, we are all our own media companies.
Yes, some of us may still have full time jobs, but all the tools are there to start that side passion project that you’ve always wanted to pursue. Whether it’s social media, Blogging, video, mobile, or podcasting — or all of the above — there are multiple ways for you to get the message out and connect with an audience.
Huge thanks to Jim for what I’m sure you’ll agree is great advice.
I seriously recommend you check out his Blog and Podcasts as they offer a great insight into how a high quality podcast is produced. Like Jim says, it takes time to get things right, but that’s no different to starting a Blog, building an audience, or even writing your book.
I personally feel podcasting is a great way to build an author platform, and I’ve thought long and hard about whether it should be part of my author marketing.
At the moment I’ve decided it won’t be, and the main reason is this: My lovely Yorkshire accent.
I’ve worked in America for several summers, and although my accent got me a lot of brownie points, it did result in confusion. I have fond memories of being on the phone to parents only for ‘What, can you repeat that please’ being the reply.
Quite frankly I feel a podcast + my accent + the fact most my viewers are from America = confusing and frustrating times.
It’s for this reason I hope video is a better option for my author platform (the actual visual cue of my mouth moving may help).
Watch this space people 🙂
A huge thanks to Jim once again, I hope everyone reading this goes away with some ideas. Is podcasting going to play a part in your author marketing? If so then let me know below because I’d love to hear a few more examples of authors using them to leverage their author platform.
Next time round I begin looking at PR and have an interview with Dan Blank to look forward to. I’ve already got the answers and they are great, so make sure you join me then.
Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million
Is Podcasting part of your author platform?
How to you connect it with the rest of your author marketing?